May 6, 2014
Dee Ford is taking his play from Auburn to the NFL
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Dee Ford could be in New York. Could be at Radio City Music Hall.
He'll be in Anniston.
The now-former Auburn defensive end has chosen to spend this week's NFL Draft with his family and friends rather than sitting on camera waiting to hear his name called. Either way, he's expected to be among the early picks from Auburn, joining offensive lineman Greg Robinson and running back Tre Mason. Perhaps five Tigers will be in the draft, which starts Thursday.
Oh, don't worry. Ford will have be a draft watch part, but away from the bright lights.
"I'd rather do something personal with the family because it's going to be the last time I'm going to be around them for a while," he said.
Soft spoken but a big hitter, Ford enjoyed a dominant senior year in which in led the Tigers in tackles for a loss and sacks despite missing the first two games with an injury. Followers of the NFL draft say he'll go early enough. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. says Ford should be a late first round or early second round selection.
Ford is an intriguing pick. He played defensive end at Auburn, but the NFL could move him to outside linebacker because of his smallish 6-foot-2, 252 frame.
"Pass rush. I know that much," Ford said. "Defensive end and outside linebacker are no different in the 3-4 defense. Play the run. Rush the passer. Drop in coverage."
Ford says he's ready.
"I'm feeling good. I'm just ready to ball," he said. "I could do away with all the mock drafts and all of that. But I'm happy. My family is in a great position."
Ford promises he doesn't follow the draft predictions.
"I could care less. They don't know. If they knew so much, they would be coaches."
Ford says he worked out for six or seven NFL teams. He's visited three of them. What's he hearing?
"It's so up in the air," he said. "I’m hearing from teams saying mid-first round to late-first round. I'm hearing those teams won't pass on me. It could be very interesting."
We interrupt this story with a two-minute call from an NFL team.
"A lot of teams call to check in, to see how you're doing, trying to be sneaky," Ford said with a smile.
An earlier call was with his agent. Dee Ford is in transition, one that started when he announced at the NFL Combine that he's the best pass rusher around. Big-play guy, too. His hits late in the games on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Georgia quarterack Aaron Murray last year helped save those games for Auburn.
"I'm the best pass rusher, point blank," he said again this week. "I would catch grief if I couldn't back it up. It's athletic arrogance. I'm not an arrogant person, but you have to show how valuable you are."
Here's what NFL.com says about Ford:
High-motor college left defensive end perhaps suited for a rush linebacker role in the pros. Has added more than 50 pounds to his frame since arriving on campus and has demonstrated the desire, work habits and competitiveness to develop into a productive edge rusher if he can stay healthy and is programmed to go get the quarterback only.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine